Have you ever thought about hiring a train? The only co-passengers would be the ones you want travelling with you. With weddings and other extravaganzas being celebrated with much pomp and show, it wouldn’t be surprising for those looking to travel en masse to charter a train.
If you want an old-world, timeless experience, hire the steam loco-hauled heritage train of the Nilgiri Mountain Railways. To boost tourism in Hill Railways, the Ministry of Railways has taken a decentralised decision on tariff structures, thus making chartering a tad bit affordable.
The Heritage Steam Voyage summer weekend special train running between Mettupalayam and Coonoor will be available for low-cost chartering on weekdays. The rates for tourist charter in the Darjeeling Hill Railways, Kalka-Shimla Railways, Nilgiri Mountain Railways, Kangra Valley Railways and Neral-Matheran Railways, will be decided by the officials at the divisional level, according to a Railway board circular.
The decision to cut the fee for hiring the full train from Rs 5 lakh to Rs 3 lakh was taken in a committee meeting between the Southern Railway and the IRCTC. Around 130 passengers can travel on the Heritage Steam Voyage Special train, where they will be served refreshments, and presented with a welcome kit and a souvenir.
Interestingly, the concept of booking a coach, or an entire train, has been here awhile. The facility, introduced by the Indian Railways, is called the Full Tariff Rate or FTR and is available for journeys starting from Western Railways’ stations only.
Here is how you do it:
Register on the IRCTC website here. (Make sure this is a maximum six months in advance or minimum 30 days before the date of your journey.)
Provide the necessary details, like booking type, journey details of coaches, route, etc. After submitting the request, you will get a reference number and a figure of the registration amount. You need to pay the registration amount within six days to get an FTR number.
If you wish for any reason to cancel, a refund will be processed as per existing manual procedures, through the Chief Commercial Manager (PM) of the Indian Railways. Click on this link, and read all the rules and regulations on chartering trains, and generating FTR numbers.
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So if you have a large wedding party or a vacation with your extended family, visit the IRCTC website, and explore the options of booking an entire train. While there are some terms and conditions, nothing can stop you from renting out a train, if you so wish!
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)